CELTIC manager Paul Stoneman accepted before Wednesday’s tricky away fixture at Darlington RA that a draw would be a good result.
But on reflection the manager and his side may very well be disappointed by their 1-1 draw, in which victory was literally thrown away.
Allotment appeared to be coasting to their second away victory in as many league matches but all the hard work was undone by one moment of madness from right back John Pendlebury.
The defender had thought nothing of it when he directed his innocuous looking throw-in back to keeper Aiden Ames but could then only watch on in horror as his weak throw was pounced upon by the in-form Steve Allison, the striker eventually rounding the hapless Ames and firing home through a sea of despairing Allotment bodies.
Darlington had rarely threatened up until Allotment’s moment of self destruction as a solid three-man central midfield partnership had seen Celtic control large parts of the frenetic encounter at Brinkburn Road.
With Sean Reid missing again, the return of Liam Hudson from injury was also a welcome sight and the Celtic front man had a golden opportunity to open his account for the season inside ten minutes after Dean Lee had been shoved in the back when clean through on goal.
But Hudson’s placed effort was too close to Alex Kell in the Darlington goal who got down low to tip the ball round the post.
There was yet more frustration for Allotment from the resulting corner as Stephen Little rose highest to meet Mark Dummett’s delivery only to see his effort smack back off the base of the post.
Despite the impressive pace of the encounter however, chances became few and far between as the half wore on.
The visitors continued to push forward and were eventually rewarded when miscommunication at the back for Darlington saw Hudson in an onside position bearing down on goal with no defender in sight. The striker made no mistake this time as he curled an effort beyond the outstretched Kell to give Allotment a deserved lead.
Pendlebury’s lapse in concentration occurred just as Darlington’s impetus began to ebb away and Allison’s sixth goal of the season saw his side redouble their efforts in the closing minutes.
A rejuvenated RA forced two top class saves from Ames as first he tipped Jimmy Muir’s floating effort over the bar. The second came from the ensuing corner as Ames preserved a point for his side after clawing away Allison’s point blank header.
A draw was mooted as a useful result at the beginning of the match but by the full time whistle their was an air of frustration around the West Allotment camp as they failed to emulate the result they had managed to dig out at Brinkburn Road last season.
The result will seem even more useful if it is consolidated with victory over Ryton & Crawcook on Saturday.